May 28, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Mark Zuckerberg: Social networks should not be "the arbiter of truth"

Mark Zuckerberg

Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg argued on CNBC's "Squawk Box" Thursday that social media platforms should not police political speech, and that "people should be able to see what politicians say.”

Why it matters: Zuckerberg was responding to Twitter's decision this week to fact-check a pair of President Trump's tweets that claimed that mail-in ballots are "substantially fraudulent." Twitter's label, which directs users to "get the facts" about mail-in voting, does not censor Trump's tweets.

  • Trump fired back that the network was stifling free speech, and threatened on Wednesday to shut down or regulate social media platforms due to alleged anti-conservative bias.
  • The White House later said Trump will sign an executive order concerning social media platforms on Thursday, but the full details have not yet been revealed.

What they're saying: In an upcoming interview on Fox News' "The Daily Briefing," Zuckerberg said that private companies probably shouldn't be "the arbiter of truth," and that social media platforms especially "shouldn’t be in the position of doing that."

  • He added, however, that he doesn't think regulations on social media would be the right approach.
  • "I have to understand what they actually would intend to do," Zuckerberg said. "But in general, I think a government choosing to censor a platform because they're worried about censorship doesn't exactly strike me as the right reflex there."

The big picture: Facebook does not have a fact-checking policy like Twitter's, but still uses independent fact-checkers to “really catch the worst of the worst stuff,” Zuckerberg told CNBC.

  • “The point of that program isn’t to try to parse words on is something slightly true or false. In terms of political speech, again, I think you want to give broad deference to the political process and political speech," he said.
  • Facebook's community guidelines ban anyone, including politicians, from using the platform to cause violence or harm themselves, or to post misinformation that could lead to voter suppression.

Of note: Despite Zuckerberg's reticence to fact-check political speech on the platform, Facebook does fact-check medical misinformation related to COVID-19.

Go deeper: Trump has turned Big Tech's speech rules into a political football

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